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This week in gaming: Tigers and dragons fill open worlds, waiting for you to explore

This week in gaming: Dragons, Tigers, and Mega Man--oh my!

The enormous releases keep pouring in. This week offers a selection of sprawling, open worlds to suit anyone’s taste. Whether you’re hunting dragons, tigers, rival gangs, or MewTwo, these games all offer nearly endless distractions to tempt you off the beaten path. You have time to unlock one more character or hunt down just one more collectible, right?

Here are some of the expansive games waiting for you in the next few days:

Dragon Age: Inquisition

PS3/PS4/Win/X360/XB1 (November 18)
BioWare’s fantasy epic continues with its largest game yet. A mysterious explosion destroyed the warring mages and Chantry priests who were meeting to negotiate peace, opening up a series of demonic rifts that spill evil across the land. You lead an Inquisition to save Thedas from this new threat.

In true BioWare form, all of your decisions from the prior two Dragon Age games carry forward into Inquisition. The metagame of managing the Inquisition adds a new layer of complexity and control to your experience on top of the usual dungeon crawling and monster slaying.

Far Cry 4

PS3/PS4/Win/X360/XB1 (November 18)
The followup to Ubisoft’s widely-praised Far Cry 3 takes you to the Himalayan peaks of Kyrat. Your job is to free this fictional little nation from the vice-like grip of Pagan Min, a brutal warlord voiced by gaming mainstay Troy Baker.

In the process of bringing down the dictatorship, you can become embroiled in arena fights, hunt for ancient ruins, and participate in a wide variety of other activities spread across the sprawling, open world. A range of weapons, vehicles, and skills will let you specialize to play the game exactly how you’d like, whether that’s as a stealthy, knife-wielding assassin or an elephant-riding bombardier.

Grand Theft Auto V

PS4/XB1 (November 18)
The latest in Rockstar Games’ series of crime playgrounds gets a makeover for the latest generation of hardware. Experience Los Santos for the first time, or return for substantial amounts of new content, some of which is exclusive to players upgrading from the older versions.

In addition to new content and a graphical makeover, the re-release also introduces a first-person gameplay mode. This is a series first that should do a lot to fundamentally change its feel. The updated version is also coming to Windows, on January 27, 2014.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

Wii U (November 21)
The latest iteration of Nintendo’s cross-franchise brawler arrives laden with expectations. The ever-expanding roster of traditional fighters like Mario and Link is joined by newcomers from further afield, such as Mega Man or the Wii Fit Trainer.

The portable version arrived earlier in 2014 on Nintendo 3DS. This larger Wii U edition coincides with the launch of Nintendo’s NFC-chip powered Amiibo figurines, which are analogous to Skylanders toys. For Smash Bros., the Amiibos store data for AI-controlled fighters that you can train and customize to take with you on the go as a comrade or sparring partner.

What else is coming:

  • Adventure Time: Secret of the Nameless Kingdom (3DS, PS3, PS4, Windows, X360, XB1/Nov. 18) — This top-down action RPG based on Cartoon Network’s hit show appears to draw a lot of inspiration from Zelda games, which meshes well with the show’s gaming-inspired adventuring.
  • Escape Dead Island (PS3, Windows, X360/Nov. 18) — Unlike its first person namesake, this Dead Island spinoff takes the action into a third person perspective. Set after the events of the first game on an island near Banoi, you dig further into the mystery of the tropical zombie plague.
  • LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS3, PS4/Nov. 18) — Three new DIY characters with different abilities join Sackboy in this next iteration of Sony’s platformer game/toolkit.
  • WWE 2K15 (PS4, XB1/Nov. 18) — WWE superstar John Cena headlines 2K Sports’ first sweaty men grappling simulator for the latest generation of gaming hardware.
  • Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby (3DS/Nov. 21) — Catch ’em all, all over again. This pair  of remakes comes from the 2003 editions of the long-running series, re-released for the first time on 3DS. They’ve both been enhanced with subsequent innovations to the series like high-powered mega evolutions to make your pets even fiercer.